NBA Power Rankings: The Cream Rises To the Top

Shaun AhmadSenior Analyst IMarch 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers is defended by Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Staples Center on February 28, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 95-89.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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As we look at the teams coming together post trade deadline, much has changed.  Teams like Dallas and Cleveland are looking to come together with their new additions while the already established squads like the Lakers and Nuggets look to turn things up a notch where their existing roster. 

The final half of the season will ratchet up the intensity and take us into what should be one of the better playoff tournaments in recent memory. 

For now, here's how they stand.


1. LA Lakers

The thing that separates the Lakers from the rest of the pack of contenders is their ridiculous depth.  Kobe has an off shooting night, Pau not feeling it?  No problem.  Here comes Odom.  Give Mitch Kupchak credit for putting together one of the deepest rosters in recent memory.

2. Cleveland

LeBron may be changing his number from 23 to 6, but the number he should be more focused on is zero—that being the number of titles he has thus far.  Look for a quicker lineup for the next month and half with the Cavs lacking a true center.

3. Denver

The Nuggets seem to play their best against THE best, but drop games that they're not supposed to.  The sign of a truly great team is one that always wins the easy ones as well as the more challenging. 

4. Utah

The Jazz have been flying under the radar for the most part but don't sleep on them.  Jerry Sloan teams are always a tough, gritty unit.

5. Orlando

The Magic will be looking to grab the one seed in the East with Shaq out for Cleveland.  Homecourt will be a big factor in whether or not they can manage to beat the Cavaliers for a second straight year.

6. Dallas

A much deeper and tougher unit with the additions of Butler and Haywood.  It will be interesting to see if the Mavs can gel well enough before the playoffs to make a legitimate run.

7. Atlanta

This team has potential but is a little too inconsistent for my liking. 

8. OKC

With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing at extremely high levels, the Thunder are years ahead of where management must have even projected them to be.  An enjoyable team to watch. 

9. Phoenix

Surprising that a team that was so close to dismantling and becoming a lottery team has broken the top 10—ahead of Boston no less. 

10. Boston

Too old.  Too slow.  Simply put.  Not making a major move at the trade deadline was inexcusable in my view.

11. Portland

The Trail Blazers have been emerging for the past couple of years, but will this be the year they make a legitimate push in the playoffs?  Closing out the second half of the season on a high note will be the key.

12. Chicago

The Bulls are pretty much who we thought they would be.  Staying competitive, relatively, while having cap space for the summer.

13. Toronto

Battling for playoff positioning in the East as Bosh nurses a sprained ankle.

14. San Antonio

The Spurs have usually come together after the all-star break.  With many new faces, watch to see if they do the same and don't be surprised if they start turning some heads.

15. New Orleans

Who would have predicted that Darren Collison would be playing at ALMOST a Chris Paul level?  Unbelievable how well he has played in his substitution role.

16. Charlotte

With Michael Jordan becoming majority owner, will the city of Charlotte embrace this team more?  Probably not.  But it will be debated for the remainder of the year on radio airwaves.

17. Memphis

One year from now, the Grizzlies will be much more consistent.  They are the blueprint of how to build a young team through the draft.  Who would have thought?

18. Miami

The Heat did nothing to appease Wade before the deadline and will be facing an early playoff exit, if they even make it.

19. Milwaukee

Don't look now, but the Bucks are 6-1 since the deadline and over .500!

20. Houston

Interesting to see what this team plays like when Yao returns next year.

21. Philadelphia

Sad ending to the career of Allen Iverson (second time I've said that this year).

22. LA Clippers

The Clippers play hard—just lack a little bit on the talent and coaching side.  With Blake Griffin healthy next year, I expect to see them in the playoffs.

23. Detroit

Just yesterday, it seemed like Joe Dumars was the greatest GM in the game.  Not so much anymore.

24. Washington

Moving Jamison might have been the key to opening the Andray Blatche door.  What a monster he has been over the past couple of weeks.

25. Sacramento

I'm not as high on Tyreke Evans as everyone else.  Kevin Martin was a solid player. 

26. Indiana

This team is extremely boring to watch.  Sorry.

27. Golden State

Stephen Curry is coming into his own and Monta Ellis is putting up Kobe-like numbers.  Too bad this team plays no defense.

28. New York

Tracy McGrady e-mailing LeBron telling him to come to New York.  Umm, will Tmac even be there next year?

29. Minnesota

Bright spots: Kevin Love and possibly the addition of Rubio in the near future.  Stay patient Minnesota fans.

30. New Jersey

I've got nothing.

The Bleacher Report NBA Power Rankings are done by averaging individual feature columnist's tallies. Weekly contributors are: Alex McVeigh (Dallas), Rich Kurtzman (Denver), Denton Ramsey (Houston Rockets), Jose Salviati (LA Clippers), Keith Schlosser (NY Knicks), Curtis Finchum (Oklahoma City), Bryan Toporek (Philadelphia 76ers), Shaun Ahmad (Washington Wizards) and DeMarco Williams (NBA Lead).